Climbing Indonesia’s Volcano Mt. Rinjani

By Chia Jeng Yang

In December 2013, I decided to try climbing mountains for the first time in my life. To begin my foray into what would turn out to be a never-ending wanderlust, I climbed the beautiful Mt. Rinjani, located in Lombok, Indonesia, an island next to Bali. If you’re in the area, you should definitely visit Mt. Rinjani for a few awesome reasons:

  • Trekking through a wide range of different terrains in the course of 3 short days, from wet jungle terrain to dry scrubland, rocky mountainous terrain, slippery volcanic sands, vast endless meadows and countryside grazing fields
  • Being able to swim in the ultimate private pool – An ancient volcanic lake
  • Being able to see the island of Bali located an immense 180km away while climbing Rinjani
  • Due to relatively little light pollution, being able to see the entire constellations and formation of the Milky Way galaxy extremely clearly.

As a friend traveling with me described it, Rinjani is a photographer’s paradise. In fact, the 2010 National Geography Photo Contest was won by a Singaporean with a photo of Rinjani eruption

Jeng Yang travel mount rinjani indonesia hiking mountains trekking volcanoes volcano
Most emphatically not this photo. Though I must state that photo credits to Samuel Yee

It should be noted that it is currently illegal to climb into Rinjani without a guide. As such, we found a trekking company, Lombok Eco Tours. For a group of 4, we paid around 2oo USD per person, which included transport and three nights stay at Lombok. This was considered to be slightly expensive, as we probably could have got it at about 175 USD, with 4 people.This amount did not include tips, which are supposed to be roughly 20 USD (230k IDR) for a guide and about 15 USD (175k IDR) for a porter per night.

Mount Rinjani comprises the crater rim of the volcano which stops at 2641m and the significantly more challenging summit itself at 3726m. There are many different hiking packages to consider:

  • 2D1N – Climb to the volcano’s peak and come down.
  • 3D2N – Climb to one edge of the volcano’s caldera, descend into the basin, enjoy the hot springs, climb back up the other side of the basin and up to the peak. (What we chose)
  • 4D3N – Enjoy the peak and the hot springs as above, and a short detour to explore the caves of Rinjani.
Jeng Yang travel mount rinjani indonesia hiking mountains trekking volcanoes volcano
3D2N route – credits to www.qimisummit.com

What we stocked up on:

Due to our mandatory guide and tour package, we had porters that carried up food and water to cook amazingly scrumptious meals. This would probably not be your mountain hike. As a result, not much needed to be prepared. Indeed, I saw many hikers with tiny 10 litre backpacks.

However, do prepare:

  • A change of clothes: Extremely useful in case your clothes get wet. It can get to 0 (zero) degrees at the top, and you don’t want to climb it with wet clothes like I did.
  • Waterproof jackets/raincoats: The beginning of the trek involved breaking through the cloud levels in a humid jungle while it rained. It rains a lot in Rinjani, as we discovered. As the summit is mounted at night (Expeditions start at 2AM from camp), and it can get really cold, it is good to make sure you don’t get wet if you don’t have to.
  • Check the status of the park: The Rinjani National Park is known to be closed from time to time due to volcanic activity (It last erupted in 2010), heavy rains or mudslides.
  • Head torches: As the final summit to the peak is done at night, do prepare head torches as it can get really dark. You’re gonna need a lot of creative manoeuvring to ascend through shifting volcanic sands.

What you can expect to experience:

Seeing Bali and the Gili Islands and knowing they’re hundreds of kilometers away

Jeng Yang travel mount rinjani indonesia hiking mountains trekking volcanoes volcano
Halfway up Rinjani. Mt. Agung, the highest mountain of Bali can be seen in the background

Standing on the crater rim of Mt. Rinjani

Jeng Yang travel mount rinjani indonesia hiking mountains trekking volcanoes volcano
Knowing you’re about to swim in the lake in a few hours can easily give one insomnia.

‘Home’-cooked meals

Jeng Yang travel mount rinjani indonesia hiking mountains trekking volcanoes volcano
My hiking buddies with our guide and meals. This is basically the Hyatt of hiking.

Beautiful flora

Jeng Yang travel mount rinjani indonesia hiking mountains trekking volcanoes volcano
A couple of English hikers commented that this looked startlingly a little like Europe.

Swimming in the lake

Jeng Yang travel mount rinjani indonesia hiking mountains trekking volcanoes volcano
I was irrationally afraid that someone had smuggled crocodiles eggs to the lake, creating a colony of trapped crocodiles. You can’t tell me it couldn’t happen.

Hot springs

Jeng Yang travel mount rinjani indonesia hiking mountains trekking volcanoes volcano
Guides typically don’t mention the whole ‘strip to your underpants and trek in the cold for about 25 minutes to reach the hot springs’ part of the trek. It doesn’t get more authentic than this though.

Sunrises at the peak

Jeng Yang travel mount rinjani indonesia hiking mountains trekking volcanoes volcano
Unfortunately, we couldn’t beat the volcanic sands to reach the peak at sunrise. This was after 4 hours of trekking, since 2AM

PTSD from the impossbility of climbing on volcanic sands

Jeng Yang travel mount rinjani indonesia hiking mountains trekking volcanoes volcano
I would say burn it with fire, but God got there before me

The peak

Jeng Yang travel mount rinjani indonesia hiking mountains trekking volcanoes volcano
I carried a bottle of Indonesian Bintang beer with extreme care up to the peak for 3 days only to break it accidentally at the top. Pictured: Extreme shame

Enjoying a well-deserved break on Lombok beaches

Jeng Yang travel mount rinjani indonesia hiking mountains trekking volcanoes volcano
Sometimes, beauty can look like a mushroom cloud in the distance

Total basic costs: (135 USD)

Guide: 75 USD (This can be considered cheap. These backpackers talk about how they managed to get a guide for 50 USD each, though through a pretty troublesome and time-intensive way.)

Guide Tips: 40 USD (For 2 day trip)

Park Entrance fee: 20 USD

Do you know any awesome adventure tips and tricks?

Share with us in the comments below or submit stories here at chiajy2000@yahoo.com.sg!

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4 thoughts on “Climbing Indonesia’s Volcano Mt. Rinjani

  1. I thank you for this eye-opening article. Never knew mountain trekking could be this glorious (referring specifically to the hot springs and breathtaking view). You’ve inspired me to take up this trek when I have the chance in future.

    Cheers.

    Liked by 1 person

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